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London Paddington: ‘Major’ disruption to Elizabeth line and Heathrow after overhead cables damaged | Breaking News News

Commuters heading to and from London Paddington face “major disruption” this evening because of damage to overhead electric cables.

Trains running to and from the station may be cancelled or delayed by up to 80 minutes, National Rail said.

The disruption also affects the Elizabeth line, with services to stations between Paddington and Heathrow and Reading cancelled.

One stranded passenger told Sky News: “I’ve been sat for an hour outside Paddington and [it was] just announced another train has crashed into a power line

“There’ll be thousands of people heading for Heathrow missing flights.”

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Phillip Schofield ‘declined’ to take part in review of ITV because of ‘risk to health’, findings show | Ents & Arts News

Phillip Schofield “reluctantly declined” to participate in an external review following his departure from ITV because of the “risk to his health”.

The presenter quit This Morning – which he had hosted for more than 20 years – after admitting to an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a younger male colleague, who also refused to participate in the review.

Schofield admitted lying about the affair and was dropped by his talent agency, YMU.

The review, published today, has found ITV’s management “made considerable efforts to determine the truth”.

But in the “face of the denials of the individuals involved, ITV was unable to uncover the relevant evidence”, it added.

Jane Mulcahy KC, who led the inquiry, said it was “clear” that Phillip Schofield’s “patronage” assisted his younger colleague in the “early days of his time at ITV”.

Beyond that, however, he appeared to have “made his way on his own”.

Of 48 people interviewed by Ms Mulcahy, only one reported any knowledge of the affair – a former junior member of staff, the barrister said.

They did not report their knowledge at the time, Ms Mulcahy added, and “nor did others report suspicions from much earlier in 2017”.

In a letter in August, Schofield’s lawyer said the presenter “reluctantly declined” to participate in the review because of the “risk to his health”, adding that his “mental health has since deteriorated”.

Holly Willoughby (left) and Phillip Schofield attending the launch of Dancing On Ice 2020, held at Bovingdon Airfield, Hertfordshire. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday December 9, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Ice. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire.
Holly Willoughby has also left This Morning

Regarding the young man with whom Schofield had an affair, a letter from his lawyers said he “wanted to move on with his life and was not prepared to assist with this review”, Ms Mulcahy said.

Because it was not a statutory inquiry, the KC had “no power to compel people to cooperate” and all who did so spoke on a voluntarily basis.

A number of them had questions or concerns about confidentiality, she added.

Those spoken to included people in senior and junior positions, current and former staff, people on air and those managing “on-screen talent”.

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall
ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall

Ms Mulcahy is now emphasizing the “importance of junior employees at ITV having the confidence to raise concerns to management in line with ITV’s ‘Speaking Up’ policy”.

She added: “I have no doubt that senior management are absolutely wedded to the importance of an open culture.

“But this culture is still not filtering down to junior employees, many of whom remain convinced that to speak out will have a detrimental impact on their careers.”

Her report recommends increasing efforts to ensure staff can raise concerns. It also recommends publishing a talent “charter”, setting out key standards to be upheld.

The external review was announced by ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall in May.

Its remit was to carry out an external review of the facts following Schofield’s departure from the broadcaster.

ITV said it had investigated “rumours of a relationship” between Schofield and a younger employee – but the pair “repeatedly denied” the affair.

Read more:
Timeline of ITV departure after colleague affair
Schofield’s statement as he stepped down – and Holly’s response
Presenter dropped as ambassador for The Prince’s Trust

Schofield had originally said he was leaving This Morning because he had “become the story” following rumours of a rift between him and co-presenter Holly Willoughby – who quit the show herself in October.

He joined the show as a presenter in 2002 and first presented it together with Willoughby in 2009.

Cash use grows for first time in 10 years as people pay closer attention to household budgets | UK News

Cash usage has grown for the first time in a decade as households look to balance their budgets amid the cost-of-living squeeze.

Across the UK, coins and banknotes accounted for nearly a fifth (19%) of transactions in 2022, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) annual Payments Survey.

Its report said: “This year’s Payments Survey shows an increase in cash usage for the first time in a decade, up from 15% (in 2021) to just under 19% of transactions (in 2022).

“Faced with rising living costs, cash was a useful tool for some people to manage their finances and track their day-to-day spending.”

The increase also reflects a natural return to cash following the contactless switch during the COVID pandemic, the report said.

The BRC said it is the first time since its reports started in 2013 that year-on-year cash usage has increased.

“However, the recovery in cash use in retail is fairly minimal, with only a relatively small increase as a share of total sales by value, up from 8.2% in 2021 to 11% in 2022,” the report stated.

“It appears that whilst a small percentage of people have returned to pre-pandemic habits, for a large portion of the population, the pandemic has had a lasting impact on how much we transact in cash.”

Read more
Cost of living: Shoppers ‘overcharged’ for branded goods

One in four adults to use buy-now-pay-later schemes this Christmas

Card payments were used for 76% of transactions in 2022, with debit cards accounting for around four in five of these transactions.

Retailers spent £1.26bn on card processing fees in 2022, the BRC said.

Alternative payment methods, such as buy now, pay later, increased in popularity in 2022, from 2% of transactions in 2021 to 5% in 2022.

People have also been making smaller but more frequent payments as they manage their budgets.

The number of transactions increased from 17.2 billion in 2021 (47.2 million per day) to 19.6 billion in 2022 (53.7 million per day) and the average transaction value fell from £24.49 to £22.43, as consumers shopped around.

Homes evacuated after bomb squad called in to investigate ‘suspicious item’ in Cumbria | UK News

Homes have been evacuated as a bomb disposal squad investigates a “suspicious item” found in a house in north-west England.

Cumbria Police declared a “major incident” after they discovered the item on Wednesday afternoon following concerns for the welfare of an individual in Steel Street, Ulverston.

A 46-year-old man was arrested and is being held in custody.

A number of residents were told to leave their homes, a 100 metre cordon was put in place and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called to assess a “potential electrical issue”.

Chief Superintendent Mick Bird said: “A major incident has been declared to coordinate the activity of numerous agencies in providing a comprehensive response to support residents who have been evacuated from their homes this evening.

“An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team is ongoing with their assessment, which may last a number of hours.

“The priority of this response is to ensure the safety of all residents. As soon as it is deemed safe to do so, residents will be allowed to return to their homes.

“I would like to thank once again those impacted by this evacuation for their continued patience.”

Westmorland & Furness Council has opened a reception centre at Ulverston Leisure Centre for those who have been evacuated and require accommodation.

UK weather: Heavy rain set to batter UK as severe weather and flood warnings issued | UK News

Heavy rain is set to hit large areas of the UK on Thursday, with up to four inches (10cm) falling in parts of Scotland.

The Met Office has issued a number of new yellow weather warnings of low-level impacts in the South West and South Wales, the Midlands, parts of northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Severe weather warnings have been published for rain across the UK, with as much as 80mm possible in parts of the west, particularly on higher ground.

Journey times are likely to be longer as spray and flooding affect roads, while bus and train services will probably also suffer.

Some homes and businesses face the threat of flooding as up to three inches (8cm) of rain falls in some parts of the west.

Neil Armstrong, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: “After a relatively calm day on Wednesday, wet and windy weather will move in from the west on Wednesday night.

“Low pressure will drive several days of unsettled conditions with heavy rainfall the main concern.

“Higher ground in eastern Scotland could even see up to 100mm of rain.

“The rain will be falling on already very wet ground and where there is still lying snow in the northwest of England and parts of Scotland, snow melt will exacerbate the risk of flooding.

Wet and windy conditions will replace the previous cold spell that has seen frosts, snow and ice in some regions, from Wednesday night.

Read more:
Find out the forecast for where you live
In pictures: Snow blankets parts of the UK

Western parts of the UK are forecast to be the worst hit, as heavy rain falls on areas still sodden from the previous rainfall.

More heavy rain will arrive on the back of another wave of low pressure, causing further problems during Friday and Saturday morning.

There are currently 22 flood warnings and 111 flood alerts in place across England.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams urged drivers to be wary of flooded roads.

“Drivers in the worst-affected areas will need to be on their guard for floods and standing water,” he said.

“Anyone tempted to drive through water that is too deep for their vehicle is risking their safety and a very expensive repair bill near to Christmas or, worse still, the prospect of an insurance write-off.”

China accuses UK of violating international law after sanctions over Ukraine war | UK News

China has accused Britain of violating international law after the UK announced new sanctions targeting “individuals and groups supporting and funding Putin’s war machine”.

China’s embassy said it firmly opposes the sanctions and has warned that any action harming China’s interests “will be met with a firm response”.

In a statement, the embassy insisted that Beijing has remained objective and fair on the war in Ukraine and it is urging the UK to “correct its mistakes and withdraw the sanctions on Chinese firms”.

Forty-six new sanctions were announced by the UK, and the list of targets includes businesses in China, as well as firms in Belarus, Serbia, Turkey, the UAE and Uzbekistan.

The UK’s sanctions targeted 31 people and entities it said were linked to the design and manufacture of drones and missile parts and the import of electronic components.

Three Chinese entities, Asia Pacific Links Limited, Sinno Electronics Co., Limited, and Xinghua Co., Limited, were targeted for supplying sanctioned goods.

Four UAE-based entities it said were involved in trading Russian oil were also affected, as well as others linked to the Wagner mercenary group.

A Belarusian defence organisation the UK said had manufactured military technology used by Minsk to support Russia’s war effort was also sanctioned.

“We will continue to ratchet up pressure on Putin and crack down on third parties providing restricted goods and technology to Russia, wherever they may be,” junior foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

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Man who kept dead flatmate in freezer for nearly two years jailed | UK News

A man who kept a pensioner’s body in a freezer for nearly two years has been jailed.

Damion Johnson, 53, had known 71-year-old John Wainwright for 27 years – and moved in with him into a flat in Birmingham in 2015 as his registered carer.

The pair were described by a friend as having a “strong friendship” and Johnson described Mr Wainwright as a father figure.

Derby Crown Court heard when Mr Wainwright died in September 2018, Johnson was “overcome by grief”.

On 25 September 2018, he ordered a chest freezer measuring around two feet by three feet, costing £462.

Mr Wainwright’s body was discovered almost two years later in August 2020 in the freezer on the premises of a skip company.

Johnson told relatives and friends that Mr Wainwright had died and that the funeral had already taken place, but did not inform the emergency services or obtain a death certificate.

At one stage, a friend of Mr Wainwright stayed at the flat while the pensioner’s body was stored in the freezer in the same room.

Prosecutor Darron Whitehead said: “The defendant says he was not thinking rationally and was not ready to let go of Mr Wainwright. As time passed, he had been unable to inform the authorities.”

In December 2019, the defendant was arrested for unrelated matters, and while police did not search the property, they barred Johnson from returning.

The flat was boarded up on 6 December with the freezer unplugged inside.

Several people later attended the flat to carry out safety checks and noted a strong smell which they described as “horrendous” and “unbearable”.

On 21 August 2020, a removal team took the freezer away and mistook the odour for rotting food – before Mr Wainwright’s body was found by staff at Budget Skips Services Ltd in Exhall, Warwickshire.

A post-mortem examination five days later noted signs of blunt force trauma, but Mr Whitehead said: “It was not possible to confirm or exclude natural disease as a cause or contributor to death.”

The prosecutor said from September 2018 to May 2020, Johnson also used Mr Wainwright’s bank card to buy goods and withdraw cash worth £17,000 and made 11 transfers to his bank account worth an additional £2,475.

The 53-year-old was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to preventing the lawful and decent burial of the body of Mr Wainwright, as well as three counts of fraud.

He was given concurrent six-month sentences for each of the latter charges.

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Raglan Ashton, mitigating, said Johnson had previously worked as a carer and a healthcare assistant at the Royal Derby Hospital and had an “informal agreement” with Mr Wainwright that whoever died first would still be able to access the funds which were in a joint account.

He said: “Perhaps one can understand that if one sees it against that background, perhaps it was not a callous act but an act, clearly inappropriate, of someone who was finding it very hard to come to terms with the death of Mr Wainwright.”

Jailing Johnson, of Sun Street, Derby, Judge Shaun Smith KC said preventing a burial was an “unusual offence” but that he was “not suggesting at all” that the defendant had any involvement in Mr Wainwright’s death.

He said: “Had you accepted his death and gone about it in a normal way, he would have received a good and decent burial.

“That was not what you did. You bought a chest freezer, a deliberate act on your part. You knew what you were going to do.

“Everything you did facilitated the hiding of that body. Nothing you did contributed to it being found.

“This is an offence which is so serious that the only appropriate punishment can be achieved by immediate custody.”

Sunak to find ‘middle ground’ in emergency Rwanda legislation as Tory splits emerge into public view | Politics News

Rishi Sunak will aim for a middle ground in the emergency legislation to get the Rwanda scheme off the ground as he remains under severe pressure to stop small boat crossings.

A senior government source has told Sky News that the prime minister is not planning to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as he seeks to prevent a split in his party.

It comes as more centrist Tory MPs are warning Mr Sunak publicly not to abandon international refugee and human rights treaties, while those on the right of the party want him to take a more hard-line approach.

Politics news – latest: Tory splits on migration spill into public view

The prime minister is trying to rescue the plan to deport migrants who arrive in the UK by irregular means to Rwanda and make it legally watertight following the Supreme Court’s ruling against the scheme.

In the wake of the judgement on 15 November, the government insisted it had been working on contingency measures and promised a treaty with Rwanda within days, along with emergency legislation in parliament.

The treaty was signed on Tuesday, and the government is expected to publish the emergency legislation to accompany it “soon”.

More on European Court Of Human Rights

Read more: Rishi Sunak stuck between rock and hard place as Tories battle over migration policy

The legislation will be scrutinised on all sides of the debate, with members of the right-wing European Research Group (ERG) revealing to Sky News earlier that the group’s so-called “star chamber” of lawyers will examine it before MPs vote on it.

ERG chairman Mark Francois promised a conclusion within a matter of days, and added: “They will then examine the bill in detail to look at the question of whether it fully respects parliamentary sovereignty and whether it contains unambiguous wording that would facilitate planes taking off to Rwanda.”

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UK and Rwanda sign asylum treaty

He also warned that the prime minister would be “unwise” to “bounce” MPs into backing the legislation before it has been properly scrutinised.

The opposite wing of the party has warned that any attempt to override the ECHR or Refugee Convention would be a “red line”.

Read more:
How safe is the UK’s plan for asylum seekers?
Rwanda did not receive funding to sign new asylum treaty

Former cabinet minister Damian Green said earlier today: “What I am most encouraged by is what the home secretary said, which is the purpose of the treaty he signed is to directly address the problems the Supreme Court had with the system.”

He added that undermining international commitments would be the “wrong thing for this country to do, bad for our international reputation”, and it would also make it “pretty much impossible” for any bill to pass the House of Lords.

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Will Rwanda asylum treaty work?

Stephen Hammond, a member of the One Nation grouping, said: “The prime minister has a tricky task on his hands to balance the economy, labour market, and stopping the boats.

“The package by the home secretary shows this is possible and, importantly, can be achieved by not leaving the ECHR, which would be a mistake and doesn’t have public support.

“Furthermore, moderates and mainstream Conservative MPs may struggle to support a so-called full-fat deal.”

Anthony Littler: Cold case detectives say baseball bat attack ‘may hold key’ to unsolved 1984 murder | UK News

Cold case detectives believe a baseball bat attack near to the site of an unsolved murder may hold the answer to the 1984 crime.

Anthony Littler, 45, was found with “catastrophic” head injuries near East Finchley Tube station, in north London, a little after midnight on 1 May 1984.

The “kind and gentle” civil servant, who was single and lived close to the station, was in an alleyway known as The Causeway.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 6 Metropolitan police officers by an appeal poster outside East Finchley Underground station in north London as detectives are appealing for information in the unsolved murder of Anthony Littler, which took place just outside of the station in May 1984. Picture date: Tuesday December 5, 2023.
Mr Little died near East Finchley Tube station in north London in 1984

Despite extensive inquiries at the time and further investigations in 1993 and 2013, his murder was never solved.

Metropolitan Police officers, who have carried out a routine re-examination, believe a serious assault in the same area three days before could be linked to the murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John said Mr Littler “came through East Finchley Tube station and made his way home on foot through an alleyway.

“Sadly, within a few minutes of him leaving the station, a 999 call was made to emergency services requesting an ambulance and police.

“Upon arrival, the police found Mr Littler’s lifeless body with catastrophic injuries to his head.”

Two days earlier, a man with “quite serious injuries to his head and face” came into an off-licence near the station, complaining that he had been attacked by two males with baseball bats, Mr John said.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 6 An appeal poster outside East Finchley Underground station in north London as Metropolitan Police detectives are appealing for information in the unsolved murder of Anthony Littler, which took place just outside of the station in May 1984. Picture date: Tuesday December 5, 2023.
Metropolitan Police detectives are appealing for information in the unsolved murder

The man, who was “described as 6ft tall, medium build, with short brown hair”, told the shopkeeper he had been assaulted the evening before, on 28 April.

Detectives are also interested in finding the man who made an anonymous call from a phone box to report the attack on Mr Littler to police.

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Mr Littler’s cousin, Tricia McClure, said: “Anthony was a lovely, kind and gentle man who wouldn’t have hurt anyone. It is heartbreaking to our family that this happened to him.

“After all this time, we hope this new investigation puts those responsible behind bars. It won’t bring Anthony back, but it will give us some closure.”

Junior doctors to strike again in England in December and January after government talks break down | UK News

Junior doctors in England are to go on strike again later this month and early next year, after talks with the government broke down.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says it will call on members to walk out in December before Christmas and again in early January for several days at a time.

The first strike action will take place over three days from 7am on Wednesday 20 December to 7am on Saturday 23 December.

The second walkout will be held over six days from 7am on Wednesday 3 January until 7am on Tuesday 9 January.

The BMA told its members: “This means you should not attend any shifts starting after 6.59am on the first day of strike action. You can then attend any shifts starting from 7am on the final day.”

Ministers and BMA representatives have been locked in negotiations for over a month trying to find a resolution to the pay dispute.

BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said it was “forced to call strikes” as the “government was unable to present a credible offer on pay” after five weeks of intense talks.

“Instead, we were offered an additional 3%, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008,” they said.

“It is a great shame that even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute. Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.”

In a direct appeal to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, they said the BMA was “ready and willing” to return to the negotiating table again should she make “a credible offer”.

They added: “A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors.

“If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.”

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Ms Atkins said the government would “immediately look to come back to the table” if the junior doctors’ strikes were called off.

“It is disappointing that despite significant progress the BMA junior doctors committee have walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes, which will result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on NHS services and staff as we enter a busy winter period, risking patient safety,” she said in a statement.

“I have been clear that I respect the work of doctors in training and want to work with them to settle this dispute.

“We have agreed a fair and reasonable offer with the BMA’s consultants committee which is being put to members for a vote following constructive talks.

“If the junior doctors committee call off their strikes, we will immediately look to come back to the table to continue negotiations.”